AUSTRALIA’S gambling industry is complex and it’s regularly changing with new legislative advancements, company mergers, and business arrangements.
Each week we take a look at the industry’s movements and how it may affect you as a punter or a land-based casino gambler.
In the past week, we have seen Tabcorp announce a ground-breaking deal, the government approve a 20-year poker machine licence extension and bookmakers fight back against a point of consumption tax.
Check out what else has been happening around Australia below.
Tabcorp supplies CrownBet with Sky Racing vision
One of the biggest announcements of the week was the business arrangement between Australian gambling conglomerate Tabcorp, and online betting site CrownBet.
Tabcorp announced it would be supplying CrownBet with both its racing channels, SKY1 and SKY2. Punters will be able to live stream racing coverage via the CrownBet website or app available to download on smartphones or tablets.
The retail wagering giant has never offered its broadcasting service to an Australian company before, giving CrownBet a competitive edge among corporate bookmakers.
CrownBet has also announced it will not interfere with any Tabcorp-Tatts deal proceedings, after appealing the Australian Competition Tribunal’s decision to approve the tie-up in June.
Australia’s competition watchdog drops Tabcorp-Tatts appeal
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has said it found no “error of law” in the Tribunal’s decision to approve the Tabcorp and Tatts merger for a second time.
The ACCC appealed the Tribunal’s decision to approve the Tabcorp-Tatts merger, alongside CrownBet. The Federal Court sent the case back to the Tribunal to review new evidence.
At the end of the second hearing, the Tribunal approved the deal.
Tatts shareholders will vote on the tie-up on December 12.
Investors sue Crown Resorts
Shareholders of the James Packer-backed casino are suing Crown Resorts due to the sharp drop in market prices following the announcement employees had been arrested in China.
Police detained 19 former and current Crown Resorts employees in China last year. Local authorities raided their accommodation after learning the group were attempting to lure mainland residents back to the Melbourne and Perth venues. Three junior employees were released, while the rest were detained until a trial earlier this year, where 11 were sentenced to jail for nine to 10 months, including time already served.
Share prices dropped 14 percent following the announcement the police had detained the group, which is behind the class action lawsuit filed by Maurice Blackburn lawyers.
Crown Resorts said it will “vigorously defend” the lawsuit in a media release.
Poker machine licenses extended to 2042 in Victoria
The Victorian government passed a bill which extends poker machine licenses to 2042 last week.
In July, the Andrews government announced it would be freezing the number of pokies in the state under new industry reforms.
Although current licences do not expire until 2022, the state government agreed to a 20-year extension where the number of poker machines remains capped at 27,372 (not including the Crown Resorts pokies).
The bill passed through the upper house last week, despite several Senators pushing for a delay due to the ongoing Crown Resorts investigation over alleged poker machine tampering.
While the industry pushed for a perpetual license, Alliance for Gambling Reform argued that extending the licence only ensures more societal harm.
“We asked for an inquiry, we asked for delay, we asked for amendments, we said don’t rush this through before Christmas and the big parties ended up ignoring all of this and signing up for more state-sponsored pokies abuse of tens of thousands of victims,” Alliance director and spokesman, Tim Costello said.
“It was nothing short of shameful, particularly given the current licences don’t expire until August 2022, more than 1700 days away.”
Aristocrat buys social gaming company
Australian poker machine manufacturer Aristocrat, now based in Las Vegas, purchased the social gaming company Big Fish for $1.3 billion, late last week.
The acquisition of the Seattle-based company, which makes games for mobile and desktop devices, including Fairway Solitaire, Big Fish and Gummy Drop!, doubles Aristocrat’s digital catalogue. The takeover has also pushed Aristocrat into second place in the world for social casino gaming revenue.
Aristocrat also revealed its revenue had grown 15 percent to $2.4 billion in the last 12 months, prompting a 41 percent jump in net profit to $495 million.
Greyhound ban from May 2018
Greyhound racing will be banned from May 2018 in the Australian Capital Territory, after the government passed legislation last week.
The ACT government states that the industry cannot separate the issues such as live baiting and animal cruelty, as exposed by Four Corners.
While the legislation passed after the government reviews new data expressing concerns about animal welfare, the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) said a ban lacks the appropriate protections.
The AVA penned a letter to the ACT government, stating that the ban lacks clear protections for greyhounds. The AVA also wants a ban on small animals, like possums and rabbits, being kept near greyhounds, as recommended by the Greyhound Industry Reform Panel.
Canberra Greyhound Racing Club chairman, Alan Tutt, was among many who protested on the Legislative Assembly as the government passed the bill.
He said that the ban was unfair.
However, New South Wales Deputy Premier, John Barilaro, has vowed to explore a new training facility just across the border in Queanbeyan.
Former NSW Premier, Mike Baird, backflipped on a greyhound ban last year, with the state now working on new reforms.
Frustration over state-based bookmaker tax
Victoria is the latest state considering introducing a point of consumption (POC) tax on corporate bookmakers after Queensland announced its intentions last week.
Queensland’s Labor Party said it would be introducing a 15 percent POC tax, similar to the Victorian regime that Western Australia is implementing in 2019. The bookmaker pays taxes based on where the bet is placed, rather than just paying the Northern Territory betting site taxes.
Bookmakers are rallying the Victorian government to consider a lower tax rate than 15 percent, while the industry body Responsible Wagering Australia has slammed Queensland’s betting tax.
The RWA, which is run by Stephen Conroy, wants a uniform POC tax enforced at a national level, arguing that individual states are hindering the National Consumer Protection Framework that is currently in the works.
Opinion: Potential consequences of the Tabcorp and Tatts merger
Job losses expected as Tatts shareholders approve Tabcorp deal
Tribunal announces swift Tabcorp-Tatts hearing
Tabcorp-Tatts deal may face another Tribunal hearing
Tabcorp and Tatts merger sent back to Tribunal for review